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US House Members Back Striking Harvard Graduate Students

Nearly two dozen members of House of Representatives wrote a letter of support in favor of Harvard University graduate students who are on strike for almost four weeks over labor contracts.

The Harvard Graduate Students Union-UAW, which represents over 4,400 student workers, failed to negotiate a contract with the school officials over demands such as pay equity and health insurance.

Twenty-two lawmakers, who are all Harvard alumni, wrote a letter to university President Lawrence S. Bacow addressing failure of both sides to reach a contract, The Harvard Crimson reports.

Arranged by Representative Andrew S. “Andy” Levin (D-Mich.), the letter said that the lawmakers stand in solidarity with the striking students’ demand of unionizing and collectively bargain, which they called their “fundamental human right”.

“We are pleased that Harvard has indicated its intention to honor the right for graduate employees to organize and bargain. However, if workers who organize cannot achieve a first contract expeditiously, they have rights on paper but not in their actual working lives,” the letter reads.

The negotiations with the university started in October 2018. Members made over 150 proposals on over 45 different issues and both the parties reached an agreement on 11 of them, the student union said.

The union has been demanding a review of compensation and payroll policy, curbing sexual harassment and other forms of discrimination, health benefits, family-friendly benefits, professional development, emergency grant among others.

Meanwhile, President Bacow is yet to respond to the letter.

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